The police who guarded the courthouse during the trial of Buchtar Tabuni made it difficult for some of the journalists wanting to cover the case to gain access to the court.
Benny Mawel of JUBI said: ‘I showed my press card but the police insisted that I open my bag and take everything in it out for them to examine’ He said that access to the court had been made difficult.
Journalists were interrogated and the police demanded to see the contents of their cases. ‘This happened not only to me but to other journalists,’ said Benny Mawel, ‘even though we had clearly displayed our press cards.’
This did not happen during the earlier hearings of the trial.
A journalist from Papua Pos Daily, Rudolf, also said he had been heavily investigated. His bag had also been searched. He said that before entering the court, he hung his press cord round his neck but even so, the police examined the contents of his bag.
While on the one hand regretting the measures taken against journalists by the police, Viktor Mambor, chairman of the Jayapura branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI. said he hoped that journalists would understand what the police were doing.
”They certainly acted excessively and this should not be necessary this if journalists have clearly shown their press cards. But at the same time,’ he said, ‘I could understand what they were doing because during an earlier discussion I had with the chief of police, there was concern about the fact that the credentials of some of the journalists were suspect because of recent indications about the involvement of certain pressmen in the recent violent conflict in Papua.’
He went on to say that some time around July this year, a journalist had been interrogated by the police because he had reported that the Morning Star Flag had been flown on some occasions. In Papua, such reports only complicate matters because it stigmatises people, thereby legitimising excessive measures taken by the security forces. As Papuans, we have to understand this,’ he said.
Translated by TAPOL]
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